The Power of a Praying Parent

Geoff was in fifth grade when he started smoking cigarettes.  One day he got caught smoking right outside his dad’s church!  Geoff made his parents believe it was a one-time thing but it wasn’t.  By the end of middle school, Geoff was drinking, smoking and taking pain pills, all the while hiding his habits from his parents.  As a freshman in high school, Geoff got caught smoking pot at school and was arrested for the first time. He started selling pills and eventually got into so much trouble he went to a secondary correctional facility. “It really became a nightmare, not just for me, but for my parents as well, because I started running into legal trouble,” says Geoff. When that didn’t work and no public school would accept him, Geoff was home-schooled.  At 17, he graduated early and continued using and selling drugs.  

Geoff’s drug use progressed. Soon he tried heroin.  In order to support his habit, Geoff started stealing and got caught with a gun he had stolen.  He was thrown in jail and having withdrawals in the cell.  Though it was a wake-up call, Geoff had still not hit rock bottom.  He stole money from his girlfriend and took her car to get more drugs.  Geoff did the heroin in her car, drove away with the needle in his arm and wrecked her car.  Geoff went to jail and did more rehab. James and Cari watched as their son struggled in his destructive lifestyle.  “You hear people say things like they have to hit rock bottom, but the truth is rock bottom for a heroin addict is dead,” says James.  “You have to keep the lines of communication open and stay in their lives, because when things fall apart, when inevitably they will, who is going to be there?”

The hardest part for James and Cari was not knowing what to do.  “I was wondering, Where is God in all this?,” says James.  “And you wonder where you went wrong as a parent.”  As the boy they had raised was disappearing, James began writing prayers while they were going through their anguish.  He shares those prayers in his book, Prayers for Prodigals.

“My parents had been there through this for me,” says Geoff.  “Even though they didn’t approve of what I was doing, they were there for me.”  The last time Geoff was in rehab, he had no money or friends so he called his parents.  They connected him with Port City Community church in Wilmington, NC and a Christian recovery house.  “I knew I wanted to stop doing drugs and that I didn’t want to ruin my life anymore,” says Geoff.  “But I didn’t want to be like this Christian, either.”  

Even though Geoff grew up in church, he says he didn’t have a concept of a relationship with God.  Instead of encountering rules and condemnation, the people at his new church loved Geoff…and so did his mom and dad.  “Those were the two biggest examples of Christlike love,” says Geoff.  Geoff says the transformation in his heart started when he realized he had a new identity in Christ.  Most addicts or alcoholics profess, “I am an addict.”  Geoff reminds us that’s not what the Bible tells us.  “In Christ, we’re made new,” he says.  When we identify ourselves with being an addict, that means we’re broken.  “We WERE sinners.  That’s critical with recovery and for a real Christian walk,” says Geoff.  “Its been amazing to see what God has done,” says James.  “God took some of the worst we’ve ever been through and used it in a way we never expected.”

Geoff has been sober for over four years.  His sobriety is coinciding with a growing awareness of his new identity in Christ.

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Pastor, Peace Church, Durham, NC

M.Div Princeton Theological Seminary

Doctor of Ministry, emphasis in Church History, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Best-selling author, his latest: Prayers for Prodigals, Discovery House 2017

Writer for Our Daily Bread

Youth Pastor, Port City Community Church, Wilmington, NC

Married to Cara


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